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October is National Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month!

Forget the witches, ghosts, and goblins, here’s something really scary: more than 250,000 people die each year from sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). SCA claims more lives than breast cancer, lung cancer, or AIDS annually.

Sudden cardiac arrest is exactly what it sounds like—one minute, a person is walking around, living their life, and the next minute, their heart stops and, if they don’t receive prompt treatment, they die. Victims suddenly collapse without warning, become unresponsive, and stop breathing. Sadly, more than 90% of SCA victims die before reaching the hospital, but this doesn’t have to be the case. Immediate treatment—in the form of CPR and, if available, use of an Automated External Defibrillator (AED)—can double the chances of survival.

So what can you do about SCA? Here are a few suggestions from the Heart Rhythm Society that could save a life (maybe your own!):

  1. Know the signs of SCA (sudden collapse, unresponsiveness, no breathing/gasping breaths)
  2. Call 911 ASAP
  3. Start CPR immediately.
  4. Use an AED if one is available
  5. Learn CPR—It’s easier than ever!

Hands-Only™ CPR is just as effective as traditional CPR with breaths. All you have to do is push hard and fast on the center of the chest. How fast is fast? 100 beats per minute—conveniently, the same bpm as the Bee-Gees tune, “Stayin’ Alive.”

Check out the American Heart Association’s awesome Hands Only CPR resources here.

Check out these other great resources for more info on SCA:

Have a safe and happy Halloween!

Jamie LaRue, RN


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